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Brandstorming is a team blog written by Jim and Franki Durbin. We like to think of it as our idea playground.
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Identity Fraud Gone Wild

Identity Fraud is a scary thing. The statistics and the stories that are broadcast daily about stolen laptops are downplayed, if that's possible.

Credit has a huge impact on your ability to improve your monetary position. Good credit means cash flow, lower interest rates, and more flexibility. Bad Credit can prevent you from getting a job, getting an apartment, and can run you thousands of extra dollars a year.

In the last year, Franki and I have received three notices from companies stating portions of our identities were stolen. We get a letter in the mail telling us to check our credit reports, and then nothing. I checked with our State Farm Insurance, but they don't offer identity theft insurance yet, and I'm wary of paying large fees to credit card companies for what seems to be little protection if your identity is truly stolen.

Scared yet? We applied for a credit card this week - we did it online. With just a name and a social security number, we were able to get approval. Nothing else - which means someone could have stolen our mail, filled out the form online, and camped out near our mailbox waiting for the card. And we wouldn't know, as they could easily change the mailing address when they got the card, or spend free for a month until the bill came.

Money may be precious, but here's something worse. A story about a man murdered by a thief after his identity was stolen. Tracy Coenen of the aptly named Fraud Files reports a story about a identity theft victim who was murdered. Now granted, the story also has some ex-wife mischief and some Canadian drumming mixed in, but the headline was enough to send chills down my spine.

And maybe that's part of the story - Identity Theft is the new SUV scare, easy to publish, so this grisly story gets more attention because the victim, in addition to being killed, was also ripped off. It's similar to news reports on car crashes where the word SUV replaces the words "driver" or the "vehicle" (The SUV drove off from the bank robbery, the SUV rolled over the child...).

But Identity theft is supposedly the next big thing - three letters in a year scares me for sure. I wonder how much risk, and what the best preventative measures are?

It also might help if we stopped watching It Takes a Thief.

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